Regular wellness screenings are an important part of your pet’s health care plan, and these evaluations can save your pet’s life. Healthy pets should be seen by a veterinary professional at least once a year, and senior pets should be evaluated every six months. Our team at Heritage Veterinary Clinic explains the benefits of regular wellness screenings, to ensure your pet receives the care they need.
#1: Regular wellness screenings protect your pet from disease
Most pet owners believe they would know if their pet was ill, but pets are experts at hiding problems. They have retained their ancestors’ instinct to hide their vulnerabilities, and a disease process can reach advanced stages before they exhibit signs. Diseases are easier to treat and manage when they are diagnosed in the early stages, and regular wellness screenings are the only way to catch these conditions. A thorough physical examination can tell our veterinary professionals a significant amount about your pet’s health status, and diagnostics, such as blood work and urinalysis, can help diagnose many conditions.
- Heart disease — Pets can suffer with many heart conditions, but most affected pets show no outward signs in the initial stages. By auscultating your pet’s heart during a wellness exam, our veterinary professionals can hear arrhythmias and murmurs, which may indicate your pet has heart disease. If a heart problem is suspected, further diagnostics, such as an electrocardiogram (EKG), X-rays, and ultrasound, may be recommended to further assess your pet’s heart.
- Kidney disease — Chronic kidney disease is common in older pets, who typically show no signs until significant kidney damage has occured. A blood chemistry profile checks waste products in your pet’s blood, and increases in these values can indicate kidney disease. A urinalysis is also helpful for determining kidney disease in your pet by evaluating their urine’s concentration, pH level, and composition.
- Diabetes — Diabetes can cause significant problems for your pet if not controlled, and a blood chemistry profile tests glucose levels in your pet’s blood. In addition, glucose or ketones in the urine can indicate diabetes.
#2: Regular wellness screenings protect your pet from pain
Pets are also good at hiding pain, but our veterinary professionals are trained to recognize the subtle signs, and test for specific issues.
- Osteoarthritis — About 80% of dogs older than 8 years of age are affected by arthritis, and 40% to 92% of cats are thought to be affected by the condition. Joint pain makes mobility difficult, inhibiting your pet’s ability to navigate stairs, jump on and off surfaces, and rest comfortably. Our veterinary professionals assess your pet’s gait, palpate their limbs, and manipulate their joints, to determine if they are affected by arthritis. X-rays may also be recommended, if these diagnostics indicate a problem.
- Dental disease — Dental disease, which affects the majority of pets before they are 3 years of age, can cause your pet significant pain, and lead to swollen gums, loose teeth and in some cases, fractured jaws. A professional veterinary dental cleaning may be recommended if your pet has dental disease.
#3: Regular wellness screenings protect your pet’s eyes
Your pet relies on their eyesight to evaluate their environment, but they are extremely adept at adjusting to vision loss, especially if the loss occurs gradually. During a regular wellness screening, your pet’s eyes are evaluated, looking for any abnormalities.
- Cataracts — Cataracts are opacities on your pet’s lens, and they can progress from affecting a small area to involving the entire lens, causing blindness. If your pet has a small cataract, closely monitoring this lesion is important, to protect your pet’s vision.
- Glaucoma — Glaucoma refers to increased intraocular pressure that can be extremely painful for your pet, and can also threaten their vision. When your pet’s eyes are evaluated, and the ophthalmic exam indicates a problem, their intraocular pressure will be measured.
#4: Regular wellness screenings protect your pet from parasites
Diagnostics, including a fecal check and heartworm test, are performed during a regular wellness screening, because these tests can indicate serious parasitic infections.
- Heartworms — These parasites are transmitted by mosquitoes and can cause significant, life-threatening damage to your pet’s heart and lungs. Signs are rare in the initial stages, and many pets show no signs before they collapse and die. A simple blood test can determine if your pet is affected by this deadly parasite.
- Gastrointestinal parasites — Parasites, such as tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms whipworms, coccidia, and giardia, often affect pets, leaching nutrients and causing gastrointestinal irritation. Testing your pet’s feces can determine if they are suffering from gastrointestinal parasites.
#5: Regular wellness screenings can save you money
Diagnosing problems in the early stages will prevent you from spending large amounts of money in emergency situations and long-term medical costs. Addressing issues such as diabetes, dental disease, and heartworm disease before your pet has a veterinary emergency is much more cost effective than paying for critical care.
#6: Regular wellness screenings are a great time to ask questions about your pet’s health
During a regular wellness screening, you have the full attention of our veterinary professionals, and you can ask questions about any concerns about your pet. Your pet’s health care should be a team effort between you and our veterinary professionals, and you strengthen this relationship when you bring in your pet for regular wellness checks.
Regular wellness screenings are the best way to ensure your pet remains happy and healthy, and to prolong and improve their life. If your pet hasn’t seen a veterinary professional in more than a year, contact our team at Heritage Veterinary Clinic to schedule a wellness exam.